Recipe: Delicious Veal and Pork Bolognese Sauce

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Birthdays are big deals in my house.  You get to choose a home-cooked meal of your choice or a restaurant dinner of your choosing.  My brother-in-law, David, is so awesome (pictured with my gorgeous sister above).  He put in so many man hours on my new home, all for free.  So, when his birthday rolls around and he says he wants a lasagna dinner, I make it my business to make a sauce for the lasagna that is simmered all day, and finally baked into a lasagna.

So, while loads of my recipes are quick, this one isn’t.  But if you have a day to hang around the house, while your sauce gently bubbles on the stovetop, make this.  So.worth.it.

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Delicious Veal and Pork Bolognese Sauce

ABOUT THIS RECIPE

“This sauce must be cooked for 2 hours or even more is even better! the first hour covered then the last uncovered. If possible prepare this sauce one day in advance and refrigerated, it will increase the flavor. This is a very hearty sauce, you can also add in a can or plum tomatoes, chopped and drained if desired.”

INGREDIENTS

    • 3 -5 tablespoons olive oil
    • 4 slices thick-cut bacon, diced
    • 1 large onion, chopped
    • 2 tablespoons minced fresh garlic
    • 2 stalks celery, finely chopped
    • 2 small carrots, peeled and finely diced
    • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
    • 2 teaspoons dried basil
    • 1 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes ( you can add in more to taste)
    • 2 bay leaves
    • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
    • 1 lb ground veal
    • 1 lb ground pork
    • 1 1/4 cups dry red wine
    • 2 (14 ounce) cans beef broth ( or beef consomme for an even richer flavor)
    • 1 (28 ounce) cans crushed tomatoes
    • whipped cream (optional)
    • parmesan cheese
    • cooked pasta

DIRECTIONS

Heat the oil in a large heavy-bottomed pot over medium heat.

Add in the diced bacon and saute until beginning to brown (about 5 minutes).

Add in the onion, celery, carrot, garlic, thyme, basil, dryed pepper flakes and bay leaves; saute for about 5-6 minutes.

Add in tomato paste; cook stiring with a wooden spoon for 2 minutes. Then add in the ground veal and pork; cook until cooked through and well browned (about 12 minutes, the meat should be BROWNED well!).

Add in the wine then simmer for about 8 minutes uncovered.

Add in the broth and crushed tomatoes; reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 1 hour, stirring often with a wooden spoon.

Uncover and season with salt and pepper; simmer for another hour or more (uncovered).

If you prefer a creamy sauce, add in about 1/4 cup whipping cream towards the end of cooking.

Serve over cooked pasta and top with parmesan cheese.

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Now use that sauce to make your favorite lasagna recipe.  Here’s one of mine:  Lasagna Suzanne

Restaurant Review: Aria Tuscan Grill

May Girl Nosh was at Aria Tuscan Grill in Uptown Charlotte.  We were a small group this time, but the restaurant was jammed with prom-goers.  It made for some very interesting people watching.  I saw a lot of first time high-heel wearers.  Good times.  Anyway, here’s the girls:
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Our waiter greeted us and brought us some chilled water in a bottle for the table.  He gave us the option of sparkling water and Pellegrino (same thing?) and we all felt like cheapskates for saying that plain old tap water was fine.  But gah.  Who wants to splurge on water?  Save your pennies, and order a cocktail.

With the free water (which was just fine, by the way) they brought out the free appetizers:  White bean spread with fresh Italian bread.  Some of the folks at our table didn’t really love the white beans, but I did.  They were tangy with a splash of vinegar and minced onions and herbs and creamy when spread on the bread.  Drizzle with olive oil and you have a winner.

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Here’s what you were saving those pennies for:  D.S.L.  No idea what it stands for, but lord was it good.  It was a mix of Limoncello, Prosecco, Muddled Fresh Mint and Strawberry Purée.  How I found this was by asking the waiter which drink was the least strong.  Because I’m a wimp and I was driving.  This is the answer.  To lots of questions, I found out.

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For the paid appetizers, we all agreed to get something different so we could try each other’s.  Anessa got the Calamari Fritti.  This was a lightly fried mix of Calamari sticks and Scallions which were garnished with Peppadew Peppers.  The two dipping sauces were Spicy Tomato Sauce and Lemon Aioli.  I don’t know which I liked better.  The spicy tomato sauce packed a flavorful punch, but the aioli was subtle and creamy.  The calamari itself was lightly fried, not overcooked, but we missed those weird tentacle thingies.  Still, a favorite at the table.

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Heirloom Tomato Caprese features Burrata, Basil Pesto and the freshest heirloom tomatoes.  Skinny girl treat.

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Another skinny girl treat was the Asparagus + Prosciutto Tender braised asparagus served alongside a lightly dressed Spring Salad with a Roasted Lemon Vinaigrette with Prosciutto.  A splash of balsamic vinegar adorned all.  Laurie was pleased as punch with her choice.  She said it was so fresh and light.

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Eggplant Parmigiana 
You expect it to be fried, but just tryyyy it like this.  Seriously.  It was so good and fresh, and the Tomato Marinara that it swims in is so spicy and good.  Sitting atop is Mozzarella, Olives, Peppadew Peppers, Basil and it all somehow works together amazingly.  And look at the cool plate.

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Caramelized Gnocchi 
I always ask the waiter what his favorite dish is.  Very rarely am I steered wrong by the person who has tried everything on the menu and consistently brings food to patrons night after night.  So, when he recommended this, no brainer.  If you could get a bite with all 5 elements: Gnocchi, Prosciutto di Parma, Pear, Gorgonzola, Truffle Oil, you would hear the sound of angels and a light would emit from your mouth.  Not even exaggerating.

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Tuscan Red Wine Braised Beef Short Rib 
If you’ve never had short rib, you might not realize that when braised it tastes just like pot roast.  But really tender, and so flavorful.  This one sat atop an English Pea Risotto, ringed with plops of Goat Cheese and garnished with Brussel Sprout Chips.  It was so rich and hearty.  I’ll get that next time.

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My choice for dinner was a special.  It was Grilled beef tenderloin, Caesar style potatoes & Swiss chard.  I had to send mine back because the steak was too rare for me (cold red center, blech) but they brought it back a few minutes later and it was perfect.  OK, still pretty red on that far right one, so I didn’t eat it.  But the rest was very delicious.  The meat was so tender, and seasoned perfectly.  I LOVED the small little potato coins and the parmesan sauce they were in.  Also, I never knew I loved Swiss chard so much.
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Roasted Arctic Char
Anessa got this dish, and because it was cooked so rare I could not taste it to report to you.  I will just tell you that it was perched upon Roasted Eggplant  and topped with Shaved Fennel Citrus Salad with a Walnut Vinaigrette,  She said it was cooked perfectly and delicious. But she left a lot of that eggplant on the plate, suspiciously.

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OK, so the polenta is a side dish, but I have to mention it because it is one of the best things I’ve ever eaten.  Creamy, buttery goodness.  I mean, just look at that lake of butter in this dish.  Sinful.  Amazing.

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Crispy Chicken Parmigiana 
We all know what this is, and it might be an unimaginative choice.  I can’t help it, it’s still an old favorite.  And when done well, like it is here with fresh Mozzarella and the spicy Marinara you sincerely can’t go wrong.  Simple and good.ariachickenparm

Spaghetti + Meatballs 
Mimo’s Meatballs, Red Sauce, Parmigiano:  Another classic that can’t miss.  Honestly, this was from another visit, and I never tasted it, but my dining companion said it was fine.

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Pasta al Nero 
King Crab, Scallops, Shrimp, Linguine, Spicy Marinara:  This was another of our waiter’s recommendations.  And was it spot on.  The shrimp were huge and cooked perfectly.  The crab was delicate as were the scallops, but the scallops were just on the undercooked side.  I’m sure bay scallops are hard to get exactly right since so small, but there you go.  The squid ink linguine was an unexpected surprise, but I didn’t taste any difference between it and regular pasta.
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Orecchiette with Sausage 
Toasted Garlic, Broccoli Rabe, Roasted Red Peppers, Chiles:  Another dish enjoyed on another visit.  My dining companion said this one was simply “Ok”.

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Aria Tiramisù 6
Espresso, Lady Fingers, Mascarpone Crema:  Is this not the most beautifully rustic dessert you’ve ever seen in your life?  And guess what?  It tasted just as good as it looked!  The coffee soaked lady-fingers were perfect; not too strong and not too wet.  The fresh cream was perfect and made for a light end to a delicious meal.13221704_1723691334580311_1064938938907246289_n

Chocolate Hazelnut Cake 
White Chocolate Crema:  And then there’s this.  Dense.  Chocolaty. Rich.  Hazelnutty.  If you like Nutella, you’ll love this.

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So, there you have it.  Aria.  It’s delicious.  I will say that both visits we had an issue with service.  Not a big big big deal, but our waiter was a little annoyed with us and was a little absent.  The owner did come over and chat with us about his friends in Lincolnton, so that was a nice touch.  Even with the snooty waiter, I’d go back.  Everything we ate was delicious last night.

Aria Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Super Soul Sunday with Suzanne

It’s been a very long year.  I’ve faced personal struggles I never imagined would come my way.  Lost people I truly loved.  Said goodbye to a life I knew since I was 16.  Said hello to a relationship with God that I’ve never imagined would come my way.  Finished a house.

The weekend I decided my marriage was over, my first thought was that I wouldn’t lose it.  I actively sought ways to heal myself quickly, because I had so much facing me:  kids who looked at me with concern and a need for normalcy, a new job to support the three of us, a surgery I’d go through alone for the first time since the wreck, dealing with my broken heart, trying to finish a home started on 2 salaries and now having only one and finally, but the biggest: intense anger.  That one was and is the hardest for me to overcome.  But I needed it to happen quickly.  Ha.  First lesson: nothing happens “quickly.”

“You let time pass. That’s the cure. You survive the days. You float like a rabid ghost through the weeks. You cry and wallow and lament and scratch your way back up through the months. And then one day you find yourself alone on a bench in the sun and you close your eyes and lean your head back and you realize you’re okay.”

Brave Enough – Cheryl Strayed

Here we are one year later.  As I do every morning now (for the last week), I grabbed my protein bar and my glass of milk and headed to the deck to do my bible study before the day begins.  The text goes off; it’s him but my stomach doesn’t clinch.  I’m in my peaceful place, “trying to get right with the Lord” and listening to the ducks, the geese, the crickets…and the cats.  I think I’ve made it.  I closed my eyes, leaned my head back and realized that I was indeed okay.

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But peace has been elusive to me, and fleeting.  It really made me angry at myself that I could still be hurt or made angry by things I saw posted, things that were said to me, things I saw.  But I realized today that I’m not Jesus.  I’m a flawed human who is privy to these unflattering feelings and emotions.  So today I’m going to forgive myself for still being able to be hurt and get angry.  And realize that this is all part of my becoming.

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This book, Brave Enough by Cheryl Strayed, is awesome.  So helpful.  So empowering.  I’m going to leave you with the quote that changed my way of thinking, and that help put out that fire of anger and even self-righteousness.  Maybe it will help someone else?

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Inspired by: Worn Corners

Restaurant Review: Mert’s Heart and Soul

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Mert’s Heart & Soul is located in downtown Charlotte.  When you walk through the doors, however, you forget that fact.  You feel like you are in an out-of-the-way hole in the wall establishment.  I love it.  The walls are filled with personal pictures and other interesting memorabilia.

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Some of the criticisms we’ve heard of Mert’s is that the service is lacking. We found that not to be a concern at all. Our waiter, DJ, took care of our large party perfectly. He even posed for a picture with me!

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Sincerely, I should put these cornbread cakes down there in the desserts.  Especially when  you slather them with this amazing honey butter.  But, alas, they bring them before the appetizers, so I feel I must insert them here.  This is what everyone talks about.  These tender pones are just sweet enough to satisfy the Yankees, but still savory enough to tempt the Southerner.  (I don’t know about your family, but my people call yellow, sweet cornbread “Yankee” cornbread.)  Whatever you call it, it is glorious.
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Mert’s has a limited selection of appetizers.  Everything we tried was delicious, but my favorites were Mert’s Soul Rolls.  These egg rolls have a unique spin:  they are filled with seasoned rice, black-eyed peas, collard greens and chicken.  They are served with a spicy honey mustard sauce that has just enough punch to elevate this crunchy favorite.

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Every Southern/soul food place worth its salt has Fried Green Tomatoes on the menu and Mert’s is no different.  The tomatoes themselves were sliced perfectly (not too thick) and fried crisply.  The remoulade sauce that dressed them was tangy and a little spicy.  It was a good dish.  But honestly, it is one of those things, much like calamari, that is on every menu, and there isn’t enough variation in taste from one to the other to really justify getting it and forsaking the trying of a new dish.  But hey, I understand cravings.  If you are just jonesing for some FGT, then by all means, enjoy.  But branch out!

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For dinner I got the Fried Chicken Wings with Winston-Salem Sauce.  They were maybe the best pieces of fried chicken I’ve ever had.  Crispy, not greasy, and seasoned perfectly.  The sauce is merely hot sauce dowsing it, which was perfect.  The macaroni and cheese was perfection and the black-eyed peas were creamy and well seasoned.  I’d get that exact same plate if I went again.  So good.

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Laurie got the Fried Whiting on the recommendation of our waiter, DJ.  She said it was amazing!  The fish was crispy on the outside, tender and flaky on the inside.  The macaroni and cheese was the best any of us had ever eaten.  Cheesy and creamy with just enough crusty edges to add a little texture.  The collard greens were braised perfectly, and topped with fresh tomato and onion: mixed together to make a perfect bite!

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Erika got the Salmon Patties with macaroni and cheese and greens.  She said the patties were fine, but nothing special.  Next time she’d try something else.

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Anessa got the Fried Catfish and Fried Chicken Combo with Yams and Macaroni and Cheese.  The chicken and fish were fried and seasoned perfectly.  The yams were slow cooked in brown sugar and butter…how can that be bad?  And the macaroni.  Yeah, we’ve already talked about how life altering that is.

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The lemon pound cake was tangy and had a good flavor.  Anessa reported it was a little dry, so next time she might try another dessert.

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My peach cobbler came with a scoop of vanilla ice cream and whipped cream.  It was decent cobbler, but my mom’s is better.  Not overly sweet, but not overly flavorful either.  The best dessert of the night was this:

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This is the banana pudding cake.  It was moist, cakey and full of banana flavor.  I never even thought I liked banana pudding all that much, but this cake…what a great twist on a classic.

Here’s the real deal:  No matter where we go, or what we eat, we always ALWAYS have a blast together!

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Mert's Heart and Soul Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Restaurant Review: Kindred in Davidson

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Girl Nosh goes to Kindred on Halloween!  Not only were we adorable, but we were well fed.  Kindred is the real deal, people.  We decided to bump Kindred up on our list due to this article in Bon Appetit Magazine:  Kindred, Davidson NC.

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I had a large group of ladies able to attend on this night.  So large that I had to call the manager and arrange a special table (I think there were 10 of us) since the place is a bit small and seating is limited.  I thought it worth the extra trouble.

kindredtoastThe place was PACKED.  When we arrived, we did have to be patient and waited around for nearly 30 minutes for our table to be set up and ready for us.  They were gracious about the delay, and allowed us to sit at separate tables until the party beside us was ready to leave, allowing us to push these two tables together so our whole party could be together.

Googling dishes, of course

Googling dishes, of course

The Deal

This establishment serves small plates.  Everything is a la carte, so the server recommended we each get 2 or 3 items, not including dessert.  Some of us liked the small plate concept, and some of us did not.  One of our party members thought that this concept should have been explained better, and felt that we were a bit condescended to when we didn’t quite know how to order.

We all agreed that people who post pictures of their food are the best people.  As you can see from the photo at the right, we Googled dishes we wanted to try to see what they looked like.  Wish I’d have Googled the crudo before I ordered.

The Food

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When we finally sat down (after standing in the bar for a bit) the server brought us this most amazing Milk Bread.  It reminded me of the rolls we used to get at school (when they were homemade) only better.  Lighter, fluffier and sprinkled on top with chips of kosher salt.  Served with a side of REAL whipped creamy butter…I’d go back just for that bread.  All of us are STILL talking about that darn bread.  Be warned, they don’t serve it at lunch, only dinner.

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The Crispy Oysters were a favorite of the table.  Lucky for me, Laurie thought they were too spicy and traded her oysters with my crudo.  The oysters were perfectly fried in a light batter and they sat atop a puddle of dill aioli and Calabrian chili oil.  I thought it was the perfect balance of heat and a nice cool down from the aioli.  This dish is a hit!  As good as the oysters were, I was just as charmed by the plate they served them on.  I felt like I was at my grandmother’s house…my gourmet grandmother.

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The biggest disappointment of the night was the Matsutake Mushroom Crudo.  Shaved Asian pear slices, Matsutake Mushrooms and Parmesan cheese, drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with pomegranate seeds.  Not one bit of skill needed, unless you count the mandolin?  The idea is that the ingredients paired work well, and the quality of the ingredients are allowed to shine.  But the mushrooms tasted like dirt.  And I NEVER met a mushroom I didn’t love.  One person at our table loved it, but the rest of us…no.

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Another nifty thing they offer is the Farmhouse Cheese Tray.  They give you a selection of four and each cheese is $4.  It is served with thin baguette slices.  It was good, the cheese was great quality, but you know…it’s a hunk of cheese.  Get something the chef makes.

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The Apple Salad was pretty and tasty, too.  Hazelnuts, sliced apples and Serrano ham all nestled on a bed of peppery arugula made for a fresh start to dinner.

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See above?  That’s called Pappardelle and it is the best thing you will ever put in your mouth.  It is a perfectly seasoned hand-made pasta tossed with a guinea hen ragu.  Guinea hen tastes suspiciously like chicken, but this is so good, I don’t care if they tricked me.  You see those little shavings that look like mushrooms?  Those are fried chestnuts, for crunch. They used a tiny mandolin, shaved little chestnuts and then deep-fried them, just to give you a little crunch with your pasta.  All I could say was thank you.  Amazing.

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So, the other not-as-lucky folks at my table opted to try the Bucatini.  I snuck a bite of Erika’s, just for the purpose of this review, of course, and while it was yummy, it wasn’t as good as mine:)  This bucatini was in a buttery sauce with bay scallops, miso, shishito peppers and black truffle.  It was rich and spicy and it was yummy…just not AS yummy as the papardelle.

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Anessa ordered the Pasture Raised Chicken.  She also got that with a side of Creamed Mustard Greens with Bread Crumbs. The chicken was baked to perfection, very tender and juicy and it sat atop a pile of polenta, collards and guanciale. Guanciale is an Italian cured meat or salami product prepared from pork jowl or cheeks. I know this because I just Googled it.  So, the chicken was great.  The mustard greens?  Well….not so much.  Anessa enjoyed them, but they were so bitter I had to spit them out.  I’ll admit I’m not a “greens” lover, but this was too much.

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Dessert…aaaahhhh.  We were pretty full, but we took one for the team and ordered dessert.  We actually ordered dessert with our meal, since we were informed they might run out.  No sense taking chances like that.  First up is the Cookies with Cinnamon Ice Cream.  The cookies were thick and chewy and the ice cream was perfectly creamy with just a warm hint of cinnamon.  So perfect.

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But the most perfect dessert was the Roasted Apple Galette.  Sugar sprinkled flaky pie dough enfolds sweet yet tart apples, on a puddle of milk jam (tasted like caramel to me) and topped with buttermilk ice cream.  That weed on top?  Sugared thyme.  I might have sucked on a leaf or two.

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The Pumpkin Pot de Creme was a most requested dessert that night.  They ran out!  It was a smooth, spiced pumpkin custard (like a super smooth pumpkin pie filling, elevated) topped with Chantilly cream and hazelnuts.  It was perfect, light and refined.

This was one of my favorite restaurants that the Girl Nosh group has been to.  We had a few snags, but the experience was so unique and so personal, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t love it.  kindredgirlnosh

Kindred Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Forgiveness-Don’t forget you!

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Psalm 34:18, “The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” (NIV)

Romans 8:28, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (NIV)

 

Forgiveness.  It is a concept I admit I struggle with daily.  I have to consciously stop my negative thoughts about my current situation and sometimes fake it.  But over time, that is working.  I no longer cringe when I see the two people who hurt me so horribly.  I even pray for them, and I do my best to make it a sincere prayer, not just words I know I have to say.  I’m making headway.

But in all of that “growth” I forgot to forgive myself.  I constantly question how I could have been so blind.  How could I have been so naive.  What should I have done differently?  While it is important to take accountability, you have to be careful not to go down the road of self deprecation.  Give yourself a little leeway of understanding and forgiveness, too.  I missed the signs of betrayal…I trusted too much.  I’ve decided that from today that is not my failing, but the failing of the ones I gave that trust to.  So I believed someone to be something they weren’t.  If believing the best about someone turns out to be the wrong thing, I just have to move on.  I refuse to let that lesson color the people I meet in the future.

 

I am usually the person who volunteers to help.  I like it, and selfishly I guess, I like the way it makes me feel.  Recently, I had to be the one to accept help.  I’d exhausted every other avenue to finish a house that we began building over 2 years ago, and I was now taking on the project as a single woman.  I thought I might even lose the house, I just didn’t have any answers how to finish the house minimally so that we could move in to finish the rest.  So close to despair, my friends reached out like it was nothing.  Nothing to give up entire Saturdays after a long work week to come to my home to do back-breaking work.  They brought friends, too.  People who had no idea who I was came to help a person, out of the kindness of their hearts.  I was so blessed by that, so overwhelmed, I just went on the deck and cried.  It meant more to me than just getting my children into the house we’d been dreaming about for 3 years…it restored my faith in the goodness of others.  It helped me forgive myself for my poor choices.  It humbled me.

 

So, today I am able to breathe a little easier.  My house will be livable soon, not perfect, but workable.  Kind of like me.:)  All I can do is do a little better, keep my head up while I work on my forgiveness, my patience, my empathy, and my trust in God.  I hope one day I can be as big a blessing to someone as these friends have been to me.

Inspired by:  http://www.crosswalk.com/devotionals/encouragement/

 

 

Twisted Oak Bar & Grill in Statesville, NC

Restaurant Week is probably my favorite two weeks of the year.  I mean, I love Christmas, but Restaurant Week allows me to have a fabulous meal that someone else cooks and cleans up after.  That’s love.

This year I had the most handsome date on the planet…my sweet son, Ty.  We went to Twisted Oak Bar & Grill in Statesville.  It is located in Statesville’s charming downtown area, and in a factory-esque building.  It is not facing the road, the front entrance is on the side.  When you come up the ramp you’ll see a nice outdoor area with a fireplace and several seats around.  Very cozy!  The interior is spacious and homey with exposed brick and minimalist decor.  I loved it.  Also, on this night, they had live music.

Twisted Oak serves breakfast Monday – Thursday and the pictures I saw looked amazing.  If I am ever near Statesville early in the morning, that will be my first stop.  Lunch and Dinner are served Monday through Saturday.

As you know, Restaurant Week has a limited menu…3 courses for $30 each.  What a deal!  We both skipped the wine they offered at the beginning of the meal and opted for tea and water.  The first course was a great start to a terrific meal.  I got a delicious garden salad with a tangy and creamy homemade Ranch dressing.  I love some salad.  Ty got Peirogies.  If you aren’t sure what that is, it’s a potato dumpling that is pan fried and tossed with caramelized onion and andouille sausage and topped with sour cream and cheddar cheese.  Ty hit the jackpot with these.  A HUGE plateful and they were the best peirogies I’ve ever tried.  The outside was crispy and chewy and the inside was soft and creamy.  I would order this and my salad for my meal next time!

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For his entree, Ty opted for the Pimento Burger.  It was a 1/2 pound Angus beef, cooked to medium atop a toasted bun slathered with melted pimento cheese, fried onion, bacon, lettuce and tomato (he opted out of that) and served with French fries.  He said the burger was very good and the fries were homemade and perfect.

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I got a special selection that was made just for Restaurant week: Beef Short Rib Lasagna.  Tender bits of slow roasted short ribs in between pasta sheets with cheese, mushrooms and topped with a tangy and robust tomato gravy, Bechamel sauce and mozzarella cheese.  So decadent, I had to take home half of it so I could enjoy dessert!

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Our dessert choice was the 5 Layer Chocolate Cake.  It was a huge slice of moist chocolate cake with plenty of rich, fudgy frosting.  Satisfying to any chocolate lover!

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We gave this comforting restaurant two thumbs up and will be dining there again very soon!

 

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